In his book The Shape of the Signifier: 1967 to the End of History, Walter Benn Michaels considers the deeper theoretical implications of Stephenson's book. Comparing the book with a range of contemporary writers—the fiction of Bret Easton Ellis , Kathy Acker , Octavia Butler , and even Paul de Man and the literary criticism of Richard Rorty —Michaels criticizes the deep claims of Stephenson's book: "And yet, in Snow Crash , the bodies of humans are affected by "information" they can't read; the virus, like the icepick [in American Psycho ], gets the words inside you even if you haven't read them."  Michaels especially targets Stephenson's view that "languages are codes" rather than a grouping of letters and sounds to be interpreted. Michaels further contends that this basic idea of language as code ("... a good deal of Snow Crash 's plot depends upon eliding the distinction between hackers and their computers, as if—indeed, in the novel, just because—looking at code will do to the hacker what receiving it will do to the computer"  ) aligns Stephenson, along with other writers mentioned, with a racially motivated view of culture: that culture is something transmitted and stored by blood (or genetic codes), and not by beliefs and practices. According to critic Walter Benn Michaels:
At the end of his talk Miguel wants us to think about the racial message of the movie. The film deals with very complex and difficult conversations of race, which does not happen very often and makes the film unique. What is also interesting is the question of who is the hero and who the villain and who can I identify with in this film. Every character turns out to be both, hero and villain. Officer Ryan is really a hate figure at the beginning, but in the final scene rescues Christine in a selfless act from her burning car. Jean Cabot is also widely disliked at the beginning, always yelling and insulting other people. In the end, she gives her Mexican house worker a hug and everyone sympathizes with her. A very interesting scene in terms of race is also the scene between Anthony and Peter at the beginning when Anthony complains about the waitress being biased against them, discriminating against them because they were black because she didn’t think they were going to tip. They wouldn’t tip and so they fit into the stereotype again.